Boehner on Obama not making deals: How do you work ‘with people who call you a Kenyan Muslim traitor’

Former Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he understands why former President Obama might not have been inclined to work on bipartisan deals with Republicans during his eight years in the Oval Office, asking, “How do you find common cause with people who think you are a secret Kenyan Muslim traitor?”

“In January 2011, as the new Republican House majority was settling in and I was getting adjusted to the Speakership, I was asked about the birth certificate business by Brian Williams of NBC News. My answer was simple: ‘The state of Hawaii has said that President Obama was born there. That’s good enough for me,’ ” Boehner wrote in an essay adapted from his book that was published Friday by Politico Magazine. 

The former speaker called his assertion at the time “a simple statement of fact,” but quipped “you would have thought I’d called Ronald Reagan a communist.” 

“I got all kinds of shit for it—emails, letters, phone calls. It went on for a couple weeks. I knew we would hear from some of the crazies, but I was surprised at just how many there really were,” Boehner said in the essay. “All of this crap swirling around was going to make it tough for me to cut any deals with Obama as the new House Speaker. Of course, it has to be said that Obama didn’t help himself much either.” 

During Obama’s first term in office, prominent critics on Capitol Hill and some in conservative media suggested he had not been born in America.

Boehner’s essay does not mention another appearance he had at the time discussing Obama’s birthplace.

During an appearance on NBC’s “Meet The Press” shortly after the Brian Williams interview, Boehner was pressed on questions about Obama’s citizenship.

He said that he was not going to tell voters what they should believe about where Obama was born, saying, “It’s not my job to tell the American people what to think.” 

“The president says he’s a Christian. I accept him at his word,” the speaker said at the time, adding, “I’ve made clear what I think the facts are.”

Boehner served as the Republican House leader during the rise of the Freedom Caucus and Tea Party and added that he thought Obama could, at times, come off as “lecturing and haughty” and bemoaned that at no time during his presidency did he make outreach to Republicans a priority.

“But on the other hand — how do you find common cause with people who think you are a secret Kenyan Muslim traitor to America?”

The so-called birther conspiracy was touted by former President Trump before he ran for the Republican nomination for president in 2016.

Boehner also lamented in the essay what he characterized as a radicalization of the Republican Party in the age of Trump.

“Ronald Reagan used to say something to the effect that if I get 80 or 90 percent of what I want, that’s a win,” he wrote. “These guys wanted 100 percent every time. In fact, I don’t think that would satisfy them, because they didn’t really want legislative victories. They wanted wedge issues and conspiracies and crusades.” 

Tags Barack Obama Birther Boehner Boehner book Donald Trump Freedom Caucus Obama presidency Republican Party

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